Opinion – 2015 Is Anyone's Year
Going into 2014, the PlayStation 4 had a clear advantage. While Sony’s latest console flew off shelves during its launch window in late 2013, Microsoft’s Xbox One couldn't attain the same sales under the weight of a higher price tag and unclear pre-release brand messaging. At the same time, Nintendo’s Wii U struggled to provide enough compelling reasons for the average gamer to adopt the console.
The playing field looks a lot more level going into 2015. Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8 made Wii U feel like a much more essential system, and the lower cost of entry of the Kinect-less Xbox One enticed many to take the plunge. The PlayStation 4 continued to sell extremely well (to the tune of 18.5 million units worldwide), but near the end of the year, the Xbox One and Wii U had more compelling exclusives. As a result, 2015 feels like a whole new ballgame.
If you're attempting to decide which console will be your main platform to support, it all starts with looking at the bevy of strong exclusives each console is scheduled to bring us this year. The typical first-year slump was in play for 2014 as developers continued to learn more about the new hardware, while still splitting development efforts with releasing games on last-gen platforms as well. This year looks as though the slump could be a thing of the past, as each console has a strong stable of games set to release.
Sony entered 2014 with a substantial lead over Microsoft and Nintendo, but with Xbox One and Wii U offering more aggressive deals to try and make up ground, Sony is looking to recapture the momentum in 2015 through an extensive list of anticipated exclusive titles. The Order: 1886 and Bloodborne are two exciting new IPs sure to draw more attention to the PlayStation 4 in the early parts of the year. Naughty Dog’s heavy hitter, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, is coming later this year, and is shaping up to be a huge exclusive.
Until Dawn, the horror adventure from Supermassive Games, is slated to hit in the summer, helping to fill the typically slower months of the year. No Man's Sky, the procedurally generated space adventure, will likely come into frame at some point this year as well. Sony has also furthered its commitment to supporting independent development, which fills the gaps between larger releases. Add to that the potential of games like Street Fighter V and Persona 5 sneaking in at the end of the year, and Sony’s 2015 looks to be much more versatile and consistent than its 2014 efforts.
Xbox One is no slouch in the exclusive department either, particularly since it started the year reminding us through a beta test that Halo 5: Guardians will hit later this year. This is clearly the biggest exclusive in Microsoft’s corner, and will likely be the reason for many of the Xbox One units sold this year. For many fans, however, 343 Industries will have a lot to prove after the rough launch of The Master Chief Collection last year. If 343 can stick the landing, Halo 5 could be the biggest release in the young history of the platform.
We still don't know what we’ll hear about the new Gears of War in coming months, but we will also see Quantum Break – a cinematic, time-bending shooter – hit Xbox One this year. The system will also get Scalebound (from the reliable talent at Platinum Games), and Fable Legends, the Xbox One debut of the Fable franchise.All of these factors come together to demonstrate that Xbox One owners will likely have a great 2015 as well.
Nintendo’s Wii U is also continuing its rapid ascent in the minds of many through the power of a strong release calendar. It may have been a rough path to this point, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that the Wii U is a platform worth owning. The back catalogue is full of great titles like Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors, Super Smash Bros., Super Mario 3D World, Bayonetta 2, Wonderful 101, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze that players can’t get anywhere else.
Combine that with an upcoming year of releases that includes The Legend of Zelda, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Splatoon, and Mario Maker to begin to see how 2015 could spell the tipping point for the Wii U as a platform with a strong following. It will also be interesting to see how Wii U’s 2014 successes and 2015 potential will influence Nintendo’s plans for Virtual Console going forward.
The best part about this is that it’s only the first full week of the year and there are already so many games we’re looking forward to. In addition to the console exclusives, we’ll also be treated to a strong lineup of multiplatform games including Evolve, Batman: Arkham Knight, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, The Division (we hope), Star Wars: Battlefront, Mortal Kombat X, Dead Island 2, Just Cause 3, and Dying Light.
The beauty of this current release schedule is that there are so many possibilities still to come. We haven’t heard about the big reveals that typically happen in these early months, and we certainly don’t know what E3, Gamescom, or TGS, or any other conventions will bring. If you felt unenthused by what 2014 had to offer, fear not; no matter what console you play most, 2015 is a year worth getting excited about.